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Diver attempts to restrain a manatee calf surfacing to breathe.
Attention Citrus County Residents: Manatees in Kings Bay Need Your Voice

A manatee calf attempts to surface to breathe and is held back by a diver -- a clear example of manatee harassment. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Colson)

As many of you already know, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is undertaking rulemaking efforts which will hopefully make Kings Bay safer for manatees by better protecting them from harassment. The time is right to lend support to the Service to greatly improve the quality of habitat for manatees in Kings Bay, but without your voice we're afraid the new rules simply won't be strong enough. There are two things you can do to help.
  1. Effective November 15th, 2010, the entire bay became a temporary manatee refuge under an emergency rule. Click here to get more information. The Service is currently working to implement a more permanent rule for Kings Bay, and Service biologists are crafting this rule as we speak. Although there has not been a formally noticed public comment period for this rulemaking, if you have specific recommendations you would like to submit to the Service for their consideration (i.e. a no touch rule, a greater number of larger sanctuaries, elimination of the summer water sports zone), you can submit your comments through an online system at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS–R4–ES–2010–0079].

  2. Manatee wounded in a watercraft collision
    (Photo courtesy of Tracy Colson)

    Eliminating the summer high-speed zone in Kings Bay is absolutely essential for protecting manatees from high speed collisions, such as the one that occurred on July 4th, 2007, when a mother manatee was struck inside the watersports zone and suffered for eight hours before eventually dying from her severe injuries. The Crystal River City Council has been hearing from members of the public who want this watersports area to continue, despite the risk it poses to manatees, so now they need to hear from you on this matter that really is the difference between life or death for Kings Bay's manatees. Please e-mail or call the members of the Crystal River City Council and tell them that you want them to recommend to the Service that this extremely dangerous high-speed zone be permanently removed from the bay. If you live within the city limits of Crystal River, be sure to include your address when the contacting the city council.

    Click here to see a video on the high-speed zone issue.
    Warning: Images of the wounded manatee near the end of the video are graphic.

These are two very important actions you can take for manatees. Please look for future alerts as well since your support as a Citrus County resident will be critical to ensuring that these protections are put in place. Once the Service releases a draft rule for Kings Bay in 2011, we will be contacting you again to submit your public comments. Please feel free to e-mail me at ktripp@savethemanatee.org or call me at 407-539-0990 with any questions or concerns.

Making sure that the Service "gets it right" for manatees in Kings Bay is my top priority, but help from our members and supporters in Citrus County is essential for success. Please pass this message on to any of your friends and neighbors who would be willing to help.

Thanks in advance for your action on this critically important issue.

Sincerely,

Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Conservation
Save the Manatee Club



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